Comparison Review: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Versus 2010 Toyota Camry XLE

Driving enthusiasts love to hate the Toyota Camry. Yet, despite the company’s current troubles, it remains the best-selling car in the United States. Hyundai would love to steal the crown, or at least tens of thousands of customers. So it recently launched a totally redesigned 2011 Sonata and will be advertising it heavily. Should Toyota be concerned?

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Hyundai Soft-Pedals 2012 "Prius-Killer" Plug-In Promise

Ask the good folks from what today’s big news was, and they’d probably point to their own scoop, titled Hyundai Has Prius-Killer in the Works. It can be hard for blogs to get OEM reps on the phone, and Hyundai’s product public relations manager Miles Johnson walked an enticingly vague line:

We are studying a dedicated Prius-fighter vehicle, meaning a hybrid-specific nameplate that isn’t based off a Sonata or a Santa Fe. It’s its own thing. We’ve also been studying plug-in hybrid technology, which is a bit farther out for us, but the near-term would be a Prius-sized vehicle… You can look at the dimensions of the Blue Will concept and see it would be a similar package and size to a Prius.

With Hyundai launching its first US-market hybrid, the Sonata, later this year, this is yet another sign of the big H’s relentless momentum, right? Well, not exactly…

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Ask the Best And The Brightest: Does South Korea's Prez Have A Thing For Hyundai?

Free market economics are a simple process. Or so they say. Dive in, and whoever survives, survives. Let the market decide. According to the pure tenets of free market economics, it’s important that the government shows no favoritism. Yeah, right.

The Korea Times reports that President Lee Myung-Bak is showing more than just interest in Hyundai-Kia.

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New York: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid And Turbo
Hyundai March Sales Up 15.4 Percent, Kia Up 23.5 Percent

Hyundai and KIA combined for an 18 percent sales increase last month, moving 77,524 units between the two brands. Hyundai saw less dramatic increases, up “only” 15.4 percent over last March. Accent (4,233) and Elantra (8,225) sales were weak compared to last March’s recession fever, but big jumps in Sonata (18,935), Santa Fe (9,548) and Tucson (3,084) volumes kept the momentum going. Sorento (9,156) and Soul (5,106) led KIA’s volume, with Forte (4,830) softening and Optima (3,633) actually gaining. Meanwhile, the fact that other brands were binging on incentives, trying to meet the Koreans on value, means this performance is especially impressive. At least it will be when we have March’s incentive numbers. Full sales numbers after the jump.

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New York: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Turbo
New York: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai’s just-unveiled Sonata Hybrid is the latest step in the Korean brand’s assault on the American automotive landscape, and it looks to have been a good one. No licensed bits from Toyota here, in fact Hyundai’s new powertrain does away with Toyota’s powersplit-CVT concept, simply replacing the torque converter on its automatic transmission with a starter-generator motor and a high-efficiency oil pump. Ok, maybe not simply.

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Hyundai Loses Idea Man

Joel Ewanick is a name you’re probably not familiar with. I wouldn’t blame you, he works in Marketing, which is a pretty dull affair. However, you may be familiar with his work. He helped bring Hyundai to the mainstream with clever and well executed marketing plans. The Hyundai Assurance Plan (lose your job, return your car) was his idea. Not to mention during 2009, when the car industry was failing, his marketing plans helped Hyundai increase market share and even turn a good profit. Advertising during the Superbowl? His idea. Advertising at the Academy Awards? His idea again. Hyundai’s market share grew from 3 percent to 4.4 percent as of February (according to data from Autodata). To cap it all, he was named Marketer of the Year 2009 (the year of carmageddon) by Advertsing Age. So why am I writing about him? Well, he’s leaving Hyundai.

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Hyundai Turns Blue

Volkswagen’s range of BlueMotion cars are their flagship “Look at us! We’re bluegreen!” vehicles. They employ techniques like a remapped engine, longer gear ratios and better aerodynamics to wring the last bit of mpg out of an ICU. The Blue Oval of Ford has the EcoBoost systems which are engines with a turbocharger or direct injection. That’s said to give power and torque on par with larger engine sizes, resulting in better fuel consumption and lower emissions. Daimler has its Bluetec, a slightly disgusting technology that requires overpriced urea to be added to your Benz – urea, as the name indicates, originally was a by-product of urine. (Now why didn’t the hyperkilometering AutoBild think of THAT?) Anyway, Hyundai wants in on the act.

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Hyundai: Look, We're European!

While Toyota is trying to convince the American public that they’re as American as losing at hockey Wal-Mart, Hyundai is pulling the same stunt over at the other side of the pond. Forbes reports that Hyundai wants to become a card carrying member of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

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Geneva Gallery: Hyundai I-flow Concept
February Hyundai Sales Up 11 Percent, Kia Improves 2.3 Percent

Hyundai’s sales improved 11 percent last month according to the company’s sales release [via EarthTimes], while Kia’s release claims a 2.3 Percent improvement [via PRNewswire]. Elantra was down slightly, and Veracruz fell by over 50 percent, Azera/Amanti are down and Sedona is way down. Otherwise, it’s all sunshine and flowers. Hit the jump for details.

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Who's Suing Hyundai For This Ad?

Think you have it figured out? Hit the jump for the answer…

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Hyundai's Russian Expansion

Yesterday, we wrote why Hyundai’s unions are unhappy about Hyundai global expansion plans which. For some reasons, the unions think production abroad will harm South Korean jobs.

The unions have reasons for heightened annoyance. Insideline reports that Avtotor may buy the closed down Izhavto plant (Izhavto filed for bankruptcy in August 2009) in Izhevsk, Udmurt Republic, to build Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Avtotor is one of Russia’s largest assemblers of cars that come as kits. And why would that be of concern to Korea’s metal workers?

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Piece-Loving Unions Harrass Hyundai

If you were a company at time of recession, belt-tightening and countries on the verge of bankruptcy, you’d think that registering record profits and growing global market share at times like these would keep everyone at your company happy, right? Wrong. Members of Hyundai Motor’s union are angry. Livid. Up in arms. And as students of Asian cultures will confirm, Koreans can get, shall we say, a bit hot and bothered about causes close to their hearts.

Koreatimes reports that despite pleas from management for peaceful resolutions, their union has demanded that Hyundai stop expanding overseas and guarantee job security at home – or else.

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Review: 2010 Hyundai Tucson

When Hyundai introduced its first Tucson in 2004, the term crossover still hadn’t crossed over from the world of marketing into the public imagination. At the time, the term SUV still carried enough equity to convince even the ute-lets built on compact car platforms to emphasize their rugged inspiration with upright, boxy styling and spartan utility. These car-based “cute-utes” were, according to the logic of the time, for consumers who wanted in on the SUVs alleged lifestyle enhancements without the profit-swelling sticker shock and ruinous fuel bills. Today, the crossover has properly crossed over, leaving behind the pretensions of the SUV-weaning generation to assume its own identity in the automotive market. For better or for worse, the new Hyundai exemplifies this new state of the crossover, and it makes the case for itself without reference to its previous status as a cheap substitute for an SUV.

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Review: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T

The Genesis Coupe has all the right bits: sleek styling, relatively compact size, DOHC engines, rear-wheel-drive, $22,750 starting price. Yet the Hyundai’s sales are a fraction of those for the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. Why aren’t enthusiasts more enthused?

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Hyundai Says Tata To Second Place In India

Hyundai are on fire at the moment. They’re posting good profits at a time of economic instability, their quality & reliability is winning them awards and customers like what they see in their showrooms. However, that magic formula seems to be losing its lustre elsewhere in the world. The Hindu Business Line reports that Tata Motors have snatched number 2 position from Hyundai in the Indian market. Sucks to be third!

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Hyundai CEO Ordered To Pay His Company $60m For Money-Losing Deals

For years, TTAC has argued that General Motors suffers from a profound lack of accountability. Specific instances include the $2b “Fiatsco,” most of Roger Smith’s tenure, and cars like the Pontiac Aztek and Cadillac Cimmaron. Incidents like these helped GM along its decades-long plunge into bankruptcy, unchecked by the lax corporate governance of what came to be called its Board of Bystanders. Hyundai’s CEO may have received similarly lax treatment from South Korea’s criminal justice system, but at least the shareholders are standing up for their investment.

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Hyundai Mulls New Canada Plant reports that Hyundai are considering the option of a new production plant in Canada, provided the brand’s sales growth continues its upward momentum. “In Canada, if our volumes grow to the point we could support a plant we would consider it”. President and Chief Executive of Hyundai Canada, Steve Kelleher said. But, he warned, “for manufacturers there is a real urge to grow sales and put up plants to meet that growth, but if you do it too fast you lose the focus on what got you to where you are in the first place, and that’s quality.” Goodness, what could he possibly be referring to?

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Hyundai January Sales Up 24 Percent, Kia Up 27 Units

Hyundai sales kept on climbing in January, though Kia slowed to just 27 units over its January 2009 sales numbers. Combined, Automotive News [sub] reckons they grew 13 percent to 52,626 units. Hit the jump for numbers.

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Hyundai Quadruples Fourth Quarter Profit
Hyundai: Direct Injection Has Its Limits

We’ve spilled a few pixels on these pages over Hyundai’s dedication to direct injection (DI) technology, even going as far as to crown Hyundai the “new Honda” of motor technology. But DI technology isn’t without its downsides, and Hyundai tells Automotive News [sub] that the technology isn’t likely to appear on future engines with less than two liters of displacement.

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Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: Hyundai Prepping Wrangler Competitor?
Fewer Than 100 Vehicles Returned Under Hyundai Assurance
Hyundai's Momentum Explained?
Hyundai Sales Up 40 Percent, Kia Up 43.7 Percent In December

If nothing else, 2009 was the year that Americans got over its disdain for Korean brands. Hyundai’s December sales were up 40 percent over 2008 capping an 8 percent annual increase, and Kia’s sales were up 43.7 percent, ending the year up 9.8 percent. Total Hyundai volume last year hit 435,064 units, while Kia crested 300,063 units. December details after the jump.

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More Volume Or Head Upmarket? Hyundai Chooses Both.

When CEO Chung Mong-Koo told his employees to make Hyundai’s quality world class, their competitors all had a collective laugh. Well, we all know how that ended, so when Chung told his employee to increase sales, the competition should probably heed his words as a warning. The Korea Times reports that Chung Mong-Koo wants the Hyundai-Kia group to increase sales by 17% in 2010, from 4.63 million (2009) to 5.4 million. “Our teamwork helped turn a crisis into an opportunity when the global auto industry was at its darkest,” said Chung Mong-Koo. “Based on our achievements last year, let’s work together to make 2010 a year of writing a new history.” Analysts like Sohn Myung-woo of Woori Investment & Securities sees the goal as achievable, saying “Hyundai will continue its sales momentum in the U.S. and emerging markets such as China and India.” But besides expanding volume, Hyundai wants to use its momentum to continually improve its brand image in mature markets like the US. To that end, it’s paying more attention to how it markets its Genesis luxury semi-sub-brand.

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LA Auto Show: 2010 Hyundai Tucson
LA Auto Show: 2011 Hyundai Sonata
Hyundai Tops Honda As Most Fuel Efficient Automaker

In another example of Hyundai’s ability to meet goals it sets for itself, one year after announcing its intention to become the most fuel efficient manufacturer in the land, it has done so. The EPA has released its latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy report, and Hyundai passed all major manufacturers in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) including traditional leaders like Honda and Toyota. And that’s for Model Year 2009, without the aid of new and expensive technology like hybrids and direct injection. A chart of of all the leading manufacturers’ CAFE numbers follows:

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Hyundai November Sales Boom By 46 percent, Kia Rises 18 Percent

The Hyundai sales juggernaut rolled on in November, posting the highest month-on-month gain of any brand with a 46 percent increase [release here]. Its sister brand Kia wasn’t far behind with a 21 percent sales gain over November 2008 [release here]. Year-to-date, the two brands have combined for 680,282 units, a mere 16,417 fewer than Nissan’s 2009 numbers.

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Hyundai Expands In China, Exits Japan

South Korea’s Hyundai will spend some $800m to build a third Chinese plant, says the Nikkei [sub]. The plant will be located in Beijing along with its two existing facilities. It is targeted to come on-stream at the end of 2011, with an annual capacity of 300,000 units.

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Hyundai The New Honda In Engine Design Leadership

Honda has always been proud of the word “Motor” in its name. It’s the world’s largest producer of internal combustion engines (all those lawnmowers), and has a long history of engine technology leadership. From the CVCC to VTEC and the recent i-VTEC, Honda was a consistent leader, especially in high-efficiency and high-output four cylinder engines. No more. The Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) revolution is on in full force, and most major manufacturers have released or announced state-of-the-art DI engine programs. And none more convincingly than Hyundai, with its new 200 hp 2.4 liter Theta II GDI. Where’s Honda’s? While we’re waiting, let’s take a closer look at Hyundai’s:

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Hyundai Biggest Winner in October: Up 47%!
Hyundai Momentum: Whitewashing The Good News
Test Drive: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Y20 [Korean-Spec]

Hyundai’s on a roll. It wasn’t too long ago that the only things its cars generated were pollution and repair bills. Today, however, Hyundai cars are generating awards, increased sales, and most importantly, opinions. Read the comments section of any post on anything Hyundai, and people will have something to say. Many have good things to say, some do not. In either case, Hyundai has changed something: people care enough about its cars to have an opinion.

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September Sales: Hyundai Hangover-Free, Up 26 Percent

If Ford, Honda, Toyota and Nissan are nursing headaches after the Cash For Clunkers party and GM and Chrysler are still asleep in puddles of their own vomit, Hyundai Group never went to sleep and is still partying hard. With sales up 26 percent over September ’08, Hyundai is holding a clinic on the difference between a soft landing with an excuse and real success. And Kia [via Autospies] isn’t far behind, with sales up 24.4 percent. As if to prove that nobody has it easy in today’s global car game, Bloomberg reports that the strength of the Korean Won is gouging Hyundai’s overseas profit. Still, in the American market, Hyundai wouldn’t trade places with any other manufacturer.

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New Hyundai Sonata: No V6?
New [Korean] Hyundai Sonata Revealed

One of our Best and Brightest over in South Korea got the inside line on the new Hyundai Sonata. Here’s what he knows so far . . .

The car was officially released today [ Hyundai press release HERE] in front of about 200 invited guests (I was NOT one of them). The car has been available for pre-sales for about 2 weeks and has, according to the salesperson I spoke to, sold over 20,000 units. For comparison, in August, the ‘old’ Sonata sold about 7,000 units. That number was probably down a little as people were no doubt waiting for the new model. In July, the ‘old’ Sonata sold about 9,000 units. So the new model has ‘pre-sold’ more than the last two months of sales of the old car. (These sales numbers of the ‘old’ model are official numbers from the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association).

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And Here It Is: New Hyundai Sonata
What, Exactly, Does This Have to Do With the New Hyundai Sonata?

Automotive News [sub]: “Drawings of the redesigned 2011 Hyundai Sonata reveal a dramatic style shift from conservative to sleek and fluid, drawing inspiration from the Genesis sedan.” TTAC: Yes, well, in theory. In practice, the actual, honest-to-god, in-the-flesh Hyundai Sonata will look nothing like this image, front or rear [after the jump]. Why would it? In fact, why would do carmakers release preposterous concept-stage renderings when the eventual car can’t bear more than a passing resemblance to the adolescent imagineering (think: practicality, safety regs, cost, etc.)? Sure the pretty pics make the car look sexy. But didn’t 60s and 70s public architecture already die for that sin? And, by the way, if this isn’t the most derivative design I’ve ever seen, I don’t want to see the one that is. Oh wait, Genesis. Snap!

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August's Sales Winners: Hyundai And Subaru
Review: 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring
Hyundai Passes Ford to Clinch World Number 4. Now What?

For those of us who are pistonheads and think that the 21st century is going to be a clone of the 20th, this ought to be a wake-up call (along with the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler, as well as the current inability of Toyota to make money in North America). Hyundai Group (which includes 50 percent owned Kia) is now the fourth largest automaker in the land. As in, all of the land/world. It just passed Ford Motor Company this month. With the upcoming major offensive by Hyundai and the ongoing downward spiral of General Messup, the only question remains: how long before Hyundai becomes number three in the world?

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TTAC Data Dive: Ten Years of Hyundai Sales
Hyundai Records Record Profit

No big deal. Just $650m net income over the last three months. That’s almost double what analysts expected, and comes despite an 11 percent drop in global sales (not including affiliates). Hyundai’s worldwide market share hit five percent for the first time though, with US share up over 1 percent in the last year. 56 percent sales growth in China didn’t hurt either. Forget the Genesis, Hyundai’s financial news is going to be what stirs up the competitors’ boardrooms.

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Ask the Best and Brightest: Cruise Campus in . . . a Hyundai Elantra?

Ever since disappeared down the media rat hole, the autoblogosphere has been more or less listless. Into this breach (dear Horatio) strides everyone’s favorite misnamed bi-weekly motor mag. AutoWeek presents their “best rides for campus cruising.” Which is, of course, the headline writer’s “inventive” take on a top ten list of entirely sensible cars that Mom and Dad should purchase on behalf of their education (i.e. party) seeking progeny. Well, it’s not really a “top ten” list per se—’cause that would mean AW would have to rate the cars in some sort of order, which would risk pissing off the people paying the bills. So here are their random choices for aspiring didacts.

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Hyundai Advances Clunker Cash to Dealers
Hyundai Offers $1.49/gallon Gas Guarantee
Forbes Declares "Year Of The Hyundai"
Piston Slap: Hyundai's Religious Society of Friends

Longtime TTAC reader dastanley writes:

As a TTAC reader and sometimes blog participant, I have a question about motor oil in our 2008 Hyundai Tucson with the 2.7L V-6. The owner’s manual recommends Quaker State 5W20, 5W30, and 10W30 in that preferential order. Why Quaker State? Is there an engineering/operational reason for that particular brand or is that a marketing deal where Hyundai gets cheaper oil for their new cars off the assembly lines if they recommend Quaker State?

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Hyundai Abandons India For Europe

In the WTF dept., “Hyundai Motor India is planning to shift production of one of its premium models to Europe after a strike over unionization at its south India plant that led to the mass arrest of 750 protesters,” reports Financial Times.

The move reflects growing skepticism of international automakers about the political climate in what used to be one of the world’s most promising growth markets.

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Hyundai/Kia Succumbs: Sales Down 14 Percent
Hyundai Outbrakes Lamborghini. Allegedly.
In The Beginning There Was Hyundai

And the bigwigs spent ten years building brand equity with cheap, basic transportation. And lo, the Japanese automakers headed upmarket, ceding entry level business to the Koreans. And the Seoul sales train smiled for it was good. And then came the Genesis, and Hyundai’s new day morphed in the minds of its creators from budget luxo-fighter to an opportunity for sub-brand confusion and ADD.

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Ford Looks to Steal Hyundai's Advantage

The Blue Oval Boyz are launching the curiously named, Hyundai-trumping Ford Advantage Program. The deal—which runs from today to June 1—offers new car buyers 12 months of “payment protection” (leg breakers need not apply) up to $700 per month, zero percent financing and, of all things, a donation to a local charity. Strange times when it’s considered an “advantage” to know you won’t lose your car for a year if you lose your job. Hang on; I’m looking for the fine print now . . . nope, can’t find it. Will update ASAP.

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Toyota Prius Vs. Hyundai Elantra
Review: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 (Grand Touring)
Hyundai Ix-onic: For Light Snowfall On The Road To The Future
  • ToolGuy @Matt, let me throw this at you:Let's say I drive a typical ICE vehicle 15,000 miles/year at a typical 18 mpg (observed). Let's say fuel is $4.50/gallon and electricity cost for my EV will be one-third of my gasoline cost - so replacing the ICE with an EV would save me $2,500 per year. Let's say I keep my vehicles 8 years. That's $20,000 in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.If the vehicles have equal capabilities and are otherwise comparable, a rational typical consumer should be willing to pay up to a $20,000 premium for the EV over the ICE. (More if they drive more.)TL;DR: Why do they cost more? Because they are worth it (potentially).
  • Inside Looking Out Why EBFlex dominates this EV discussion? Just because he is a Ford expert?
  • Marky S. Very nice article and photos. I am a HUGE Edsel fan. I have always been fascinated with the "Charlie Brown of Cars." Allow me to make a minor correction to add here: the Pacer line was the second-from-bottom rung Edsel, not the entry-level trim. That would be the Edsel Ranger for 1958. It had the widest array of body styles. The Ranger 2-door sedan (with a "B-pillar", not a pillarless hardtop), was priced at $2,484. So, the Ranger and Pacer both used the smaller Ford body. The next two upscale Edsel's were based on the Mercury body, are were: Corsair, and, top-line Citation. Although the 1959 style is my fav. I would love a '58 Edsel Pacer 4-door hardtop sedan!
  • Lou_BC Stupid to kill the 6ft box in the crewcab. That's the most common Canyon/Colorado trim I see. That kills the utility of a small truck. The extended cab was a poor seller so that makes sense. GM should have kept the diesel. It's a decent engine that mates well with the 6 speed. Fuel economy is impressive.
  • Lou_BC High end EV's are selling well. Car companies are taking advantage of that fact. I see quite a few $100k pickups in my travels so why is that ok but $100k EV's are bad? The cynical side of me sees car companies tack on 8k premiums to EV's around the time we see governments up EV credits. Coincidence? No fooking way.